So, with last week’s episode, I know a lot of purists are not liking the new series for many reasons. Voice acting, ship design, bad CGI, bishiefication of the main characters and so on. And to be quite honest I’m one of them. I know one person who is okay with it but has issues with the franchise as a whole for reasons I’ve not asked about. But continuing on I think it isn’t that bad of a show so far.
As the last battle in the Battle of Astarte plays out, Reinhard’s carefully laid plans had been foiled by a man claiming himself to be Commodore Yang Wen-li, acting commander of the Free Planets Alliance’s Second Fleet. Ten hours before the battle of Astarte, aboard the Second Fleet Flagship Patroklos, a Yang was seen to be lounging on his bed and reading a book before being summoned to the bridge.
Yang’s commander, Admiral Paetta, had just rejected Yang’s plan due to its lack of offensive-mindedness, even though Yang has valid concerns about their current deployment. Admiral Paetta though isn’t dismissive of Yang and his rejection wasn’t based on Yang personally per se, just not fitting the expected outcome of the battle. Dejected, Yang heads back before being buttonholed by another bridge officer, Lieutenant Commander Lao, who is grateful for serving with the ‘Hero of El Facil’.
Noting that his plan was rejected, Lao asks Yang of his opinion of the matter. While they do have an advantage, he knows the enemy shouldn’t be too worried. Getting off the lift, Lao says he has the luck of the devil due to having survived past battles where most of his fleet was decimated. He is optimistic about the mission and tells him to not be discouraged.
Later, as patrol ships report in that the Imperial Expeditionary Fleet is nowhere to be found in their expected location, Yang deduces that the Empire is unwilling to play to the old playbook that got them slaughtered in the Battle of Dagon in the beginning of the war and comes up with contingencies.
Advising Admiral Paetta, Paetta rebuffs his analysis and states they will head to support the Fourth Fleet even though by combining forces, the Second and Sixth Fleets would easily outnumber Imperial forces and take them out. Paetta notes the difference in experience between VAdm. Pastolle and the young Count Lohengramm.
Rejected once more, he manages to contact Lieutenant Commander Lapp through heavy interference, who asks him to take care of his fiancé if anything were to happen to him. As the Sixth Fleet falls like a sandcastle in rough surf, Lapp’s last thoughts are of his beloved.
Once again, Yang is rebuffed for having ideas that aren’t offensive enough for Paetta’s tastes, to which he responds that he hasn’t been advised on how to do so. Regardless, with the increase in jamming and the battle space management system offline, optical imaging shows that the enemy fleet has reached their fleet. Going into battle stations, the Patroklos was hit early on.
Yang finds himself the sole surviving and relatively uninjured officer on the bridge of the Patroklos, and Admiral Paetta asks Yang to take over, noting that the fleet needed his command acumen before he passes out from his injuries. After opening a channel to his fleet and uttering his now well-known boast to win, he commands Lao to send a signal out to all ships to open up Code C-4 in their tactical intel system.
Even with enemy interception, the contingency he had originally uploaded into their tactical network makes their way to various squadron commander including fellow Commodore Edwin Fischer aboard the Manannan Mac Lir. Back aboard the flagship, Lao asks if his plan fails, to which Yang would respond that he had been clueless.
As the Second Fleet is split in half (by their own choosing and not by Reinhard’s spindle breakthrough), the ships wait until the enemy fleet has fully penetrated their lines before rushing off on either side to come about and reform to the Imperial fleet’s rear.
Having been outflanked, Kircheis jokes if they should turn but Reinhard remarks that he isn’t as incompetent as the Alliance’s Fourth Fleet commander and instead pushes forward. The two fleets start to dance together before eventually forming a circle, where upon the trailing ships of the Imperial Expeditionary Fleet are attacked by the forward ships of the Alliance’s Second Fleet.
Lao comments that he has never seen such a formation before, to which Yang agrees out loud but notes that all throughout history such a formation has occurred in many countless battlefields. Reinhard is annoyed, the battle turning into one of attrition. Back aboard the Patroklos, Yang notes the enemy will break off soon and that they will not follow, noting they’ve already done well enough to do what they managed.
Reinhard is disappointed that he was unable to obtain the third victory but is willing to leave with his forces intact and having already garnered battlefield accolades with the defeat of two other fleets and a draw on the third.
As the two forces retreat from the battlefield, Reinhard notes that Yang could very well be the commander that Kircheis warns about, and sends a message in his name wishing him good health until they can meet in the battle again. Yang doesn’t respond, noting that they probably don’t expect him to in the first place and instead pointing out in prioritizing the recovery of any survivors.
Lao is thankful that his life was saved to Yang’s quick thinking, to which he responds that it was merely his good luck.
In the end, while the Alliance managed to ensure the safety of the Astarte Starzone and repelled the Imperial invasion into Alliance space, the cost was staggering in comparison to the Imperial navy, having suffered ten to eleven times more casualties than the Imperial navy.
Back on Odin, at the Imperial Palace, Reinhard is summoned before Kaiser Frederich IV. For his exploits in battle he is promoted to Imperial Fleet Admiral, though it would just be one step towards his own ambitions.
Let’s talk some details here. There have been some small changes that reflect the ‘modernization’ of the material I’ve touched on it with ECM, ECCM, data uplinks and the like in the last talk, but now additionally damage control robots appeared, having rushed to the gaps in the armor to quickly seal it. Electronic warfare meant that linked fire control and battle space management systems would often be jammed thus necessitating other usage. It seems that courier shuttles and pre-programmed commands would be a thing to watch for.
Shield-wise, FPA ships weren’t known for their shields in the original, and even then shields weren’t a thing in the original, since a proper direct hit would often be the death of a ship. Armor is the same, as even the tiny lasers aboard Valkyrie and Spartanian fightercraft would often down ships as large as cruisers and battleships. The increased frequency in their usage is most likely one of those modernizing aspects, as is the bridge redesign for the Alliance.
Now, did complain about the lack of retro thrusters and the like on the ships, though I am mistaken as they are there for both sides, though it is only now that we really see their usage in battle.
This episode was easier to swallow than the first, all joking aside from a friend that it was due to the show enlarging my throat. The addition of Yang’s perspective and focus being on him helped. I didn’t get the same annoyance with Yang’s redesign as I did with Reinhard and Kircheis, and was quite thankful that Admiral Fischer still looked old in the series.
Other than that I’m still underwhelmed with the soundtrack, and if that is the new FPA Anthem I hope they at least fixed up the Engrish lyrics. Ditto for the Imperial anthem, both weren’t really filling me with any emotion beyond ‘that’s it?’ I like how they took account for speed in this episode but still would prefer time stamps if only to showcase the outright density and scale of the battles, but at this point it seemed like a lost cause. Maybe if the show would ever get to the Battle of Vermillion or even Battle of the Corridor, we might get something resembling timestamps in terms of the narration.
Otherwise the second episode should be noted for Yang having seen past the bluster of his commanders, and the fact that there are those in the Empire that has read history and was unwilling to go through the same humiliation they did at the start of the war.
The ending was still the same, though now it started from the FPA side and moved left to the Imperials and ending with Reinhard.
One other thing I noticed, the Alliance uses the British/Commonwealth method of saluting with the palms facing out. Interesting. I do like the uniform redesign, I think it’s well within my grasp to cosplay if I ever get around to it.
I might hammer out Yamato posts by the end of April, and of course would probably do a big TER of The Expanse’s third season as well.